Gene expression signatures in PCB-exposed Slovak children in relation to their environmental exposures and socio-physical characteristics

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2022 Aug;29(40):60531-60541. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-20018-2. Epub 2022 Apr 14.


Our previous gene expression studies in a PCB-exposed cohort of young children in Slovakia revealed that early-life exposures to PCBs and other organochlorine compounds were associated with significant alterations across several pathogenetic pathways. The present study was undertaken to further explore the high-throughput qRT-PCR-based gene expression effects by using TaqMan low-density array (TLDA) for selected genes in a sample of 55 children from the cohort. We analyzed the transcriptional changes of 11 genes in relation to PCB and organochlorine pesticide exposure levels (including DDT, DDE, HCH, and HCB), and to BMI and ethnicity in this cohort. The results indicated an overall downregulation of expression of these genes. Maximum downregulation (in fold change) was observed in the ENTPD3 gene, and the minimum level of downregulation was in CYP2D6. As per our multinomial regression model study, downregulation of LEPR gene was significantly directly correlated with all the exposure variables. Downregulation of APC, ARNT, CYP2D6, LEPR, LRP12, and MYC genes was directly correlated with BMI (kg/m2) of the individuals. Gender-specific differences in gene expression were observed in CYP2D6 (p-value 0.0001) and LEPR (p-value 0.028), while downregulation of CYP2D6 (p-value 0.01), LEPR (p-value 0.02), LRP12 (p-value 0.04), and MYC (p-value 0.02) genes was consistently observed in Roma children compared to Caucasians. The investigation of such health disparities must be emphasized in future research, together with interventions to reduce the health consequences of PCB exposures. In this context, we emphasize the importance of biomarker-based approaches to future research on genetic susceptibility to the effects of these compounds.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Gene expression; Organochlorines; PCBs.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / metabolism
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls* / metabolism
  • Slovakia
  • Transcriptome


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6